IRISH SEA NEWS BULLETIN
|NOTES & NEWS |
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
I would like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone one a very Happy New Year and let us all hope that the Irish Sea shipping scene has a much better year than in 2001!
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Lawlor, J LeGangneux, Kevin Bennett and "others"
SHIPS OF MANN
The Ships of Mann web site has started the expansion of its database commencing with the six Isle of Man Steam Packet Company post-war sisters and that further improvements will take place during the coming year. www.shipsofmann.fsnet.co.uk/
SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
BEN-MY-CHREE the on-line booking computer appears to show amended dates for the Ben's dry docking. Her last sailing is 02.15 Heysham - Douglas on Saturday 19 January 2002, resuming at 09.00 Douglas to Heysham on Tuesday 12 February. The LADY OF MANN sailings scheduled for 9 to 29 January therefore operate 19 January to 11 February. Whatever Ben's replacement is, it is not in the computer as conveying passengers.
A report in the January edition of "Coastal Cruising" suggests that preliminary talks are believed to have begun between Sea Containers and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company with a view to transferring the BEN-MY-CHREE to Twelve Quays, Birkenhead as an alternative to Heysham with additional summer season fast craft services. Last month a rumour was doing the rounds that a possible transfer from Heysham to Mostyn was on the cards. If the transfer did take place, the magazine speculates that it might mean the end of the LADY OF MANN's operation on the Irish Sea and that she might find operation with some new Sea Containers venture on the Mediterranean. However, in her present form the BEN-MY-CHREE would not have the capacity to provide enough accommodation on the Douglas to Liverpool route at winter weekends. It had been anticipated in the autumn, and planned for in the on-line booking system, that the BEN-MY-CHREE would be off service for around two months for an extensive upgrade to her passenger accommodation. However, this proposal was suddenly shelved.
Another problem with the BEN-MY-CHREE is that her slower speed would make fast turn a rounds essential unless of course improvements were made to improve her speed. It was a great shame that the company did not have the foresight to provide her with a 22 to 25 knot cruising speed when she was commissioned.
Several Sea Containers fast craft are expected to refit at Cherbourg this winter taking advantage of a lift system which is capable of removing the vessels from the water. The first vessel to use the facility will be DIAMANT which is due for refit between January 7 and 21. She will be followed by SEACAT DANMARK between January 23 and February 14. HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN will be dealt with between February 16 and March 12. There is a possibility that ATLANTIC II will also be refitted there.
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
P&O have left a vessel to lay over at Fleetwood over Christmas for possibly the first time since the late 1970s. Usually if not going into drydock, the vessels go down to Liverpool presumably because there in the enclosed dock system, they only need a skeleton crew on board.
EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR took over the EUROPEAN LEADER's schedule on the Sunday 22:00 sailing from Larne and remained on the berth since arrival on Monday morning.
With the EUROPEAN LEADER at Liverpool having some work done to her, it looks as though the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR and EUROPEAN PIONEER will maintain the sailings over the holiday period.
EUROPEAN PATHFINDER entered Cammell Laird #4 dry dock on December 27.
With the NORMANDY providing cover for the refit of ISLE OF INISHMORE between January 7 and February 7 the following schedule will operate:
BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN
Yet again the future of the short lived Ballycastle - Campbeltown service is back in the news. This week the Glasgow Herald reported that a high speed catamaran is one of the options being considered by ministers for the reintroduction of the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service.
The Scottish cabinet and the Northern Ireland executive have finally brokered a deal to reinstate the crossing by July 2002, after agreeing the level of subsidy to be paid by each.
A catamaran would cut crossing times by as much as two-thirds and also offer a commercial route from Campbeltown to other points on the Scottish mainland, with the Ayrshire port of Troon one likely candidate.
A marine consultant has been appointed to draw up the tender documents for an 11-month service for the next five years. This would be a significant improvement on the summer-only service operated by Sea Containers in 1997, 1998, and 1999 - the last time the ferry operated.
Under the terms of the agreement the original ferry, MV CLAYMORE - which Michael Forsyth, then Scottish secretary, ordered Caledonian MacBrayne to sell to Sea Containers in 1997 - could still be brought back into service.
However, ministers are seriously considering the option of deploying a catamaran instead.
A source said: "One company has already been in touch to say it would be possible to run the service with a catamaran that could go as fast as 38 knots. That would reduce the crossing times from nearly three hours to less than one."
The news that the ferry is to be reinstated would be warmly welcomed by both residents and the business community in Kintyre, but many doubt that it can be sailing by July. There has still been no announcement as to when the service will be put out to tender.
The agreement to proceed follows months of wrangling between the devolved administrations and Whitehall on responsibility for the service.
As a service sailing out with Scotland, it was technically under the edict of the Scotland Office in Westminster, but the department had no budget with which to pay for it.
The anomaly made it impossible to invite bids from ferry operators, but the UK government indicated last month that it was prepared to devolve responsibility if the Scottish and Northern Ireland executives agreed to pay their share of the subsidy.
On the possible vessel to be used, however, George Lyon, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said yesterday: "Given the feasibility study said that the catamaran option would be five times more expensive to run than the Claymore, I would be amazed, but delighted, if this were true.
"The Scottish executive have put up the money for the subsidy after the UK government refused to do so. Therefore, why is there no announcement from the Scotland Office that the tendering process is beginning now? That seems to be the only stumbling block."
The Herald understands that the delay has been due to UK government concern over the legal position of the Scotland Office launching a tendering process when it has no money to honour any contract awarded. The alternative is to wait until the necessary powers are devolved to the Scottish and Northern Ireland executives, which could take up to four months.
Offering an official reason for the delay yesterday, a spokesman for the Scotland Office said: "The issue is still being considered by the Scottish and Northern Irish executives in liaison with the Scotland Office."
Stena have made the following announcement concerning their winter maintenance and dry docking arrangements:
DUN LAOGHAIRE - HOLYHEAD
HSS Stena Explorer is scheduled from 6 Jan to 11 Feb 02. During this time the following sailings will not operate : Ex Holyhead 08.55, 13.45, 18.30 - Ex Dun Laoghaire 11.10, 16.05, 22.15. In other words the route is closed!
DUBLIN - HOLYHEAD ROUTE
STENA FORWARDER will not be withdrawn for refit in 2002 and will continue to operate.
ROSSLARE - FISHGUARD ROUTE
Due to the introduction of the Stena Europe to the route in March 2002 there will be no interruptions to the service.
BELFAST - STRANRAER ROUTE
HSS STENA VOYAGER services will not operate between January 7 & 9, 2002. The last service will be the 05:15 departure from Stranraer on January 7. The service will resume with the 10:00 from Stranraer on January 9. During this time the conventional timetable will be altered slightly with additional trippage being performed.
Royal Caribbean Cruises and P&O Princess Cruises each urged shareholders Thursday to support their merger deal, and both announced that bookings are on the upswing.
Royal Caribbean also said that two major shareholders, who were not named in the company's announcement, have agreed to throw at least 44.5 percent of the company's outstanding shares behind the deal. The Miami-based cruise line mailed proxies to stockholders Thursday.
``This is a terrific opportunity for both P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean to combine to become a leading provider of cruises to all major destinations,'' said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean. ``I am convinced that the merger we have agreed to with P&O Princess will provide both sets of shareholders significant long-term value.''
The two companies' lobbying effort comes as Carnival Corp. is making a bid of its own for P&O Princess.
Last week, London-based P&O Princess rescheduled the shareholder vote on the Royal Caribbean merger from mid-January to Feb. 14. The new date gives shareholders more time to analyze the two offers and allows Carnival a chance to sweeten its $4.6 billion bid.
Carnival, the largest cruise company, is trying to buy No. 3 P&O Princess to thwart P&O's planned $6 billion purchase of No. 2 Royal Caribbean. P&O Princess reiterated its estimate that merging its reservation system and other units with Royal Caribbean's would save the lines $100 million annually.
The London company also said its earnings would be ``not less'' than 40 cents a share, because cruise bookings are better than expected. P&O Princess said in October it would earn 38 to 40 cents a share for the year, compared with 40 cents in 2000.
P&O Princess may be releasing the positive earnings news to induce Carnival to bid more, an analyst said.
``They're justifying the upside of their merger with Royal Caribbean, while also demonstrating to Carnival that bookings are up, so they're worth more,'' said Michelle Russo, an analyst with Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. ``Carnival has the door open to offer more if Princess can demonstrate that they're worth more.''
Since the beginning of November, Princess' weekly net bookings have consistently exceeded those of the equivalent period 12 months earlier, although cumulative bookings for 2002 still remain behind last year's levels at this time, Princess said.
``Of course, we are now entering the key January to March booking period, which will have a major influence on the 2002 results,'' Princess Chief Executive Peter Ratcliffe said.
Royal Caribbean, which operates Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, also noted better bookings and steadily rising prices over the past six weeks. Prices slid to 1960s-era levels immediately after Sept. 11 when cruise lines slashed already-low prices to lure back passengers.
P&O Princess shares rose 4.5 pence to 399.5 pence in London trading. Royal Caribbean shares rose 67 cents to $16 in New York, while Carnival shares rose 29 cents to $27.97.
|NOTES & NEWS |
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
I would like to take this opportunity of wishing all visitors to Irish Sea Shipping a very Merry Christmas.
Acknowledgements: I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to Irish Sea Shipping over the past year. No matter how small, each piece of news adds to the whole, and enables others to share in a large amount of information before most of it reaches the maritime magazines. Thank you one and all!
This week I would like to thank: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, John Williamson, John and Jenny Williamson, John Murray, John Shepherd and "others".
RAPIDE - further to my notes in the previous update her port hull is now painted completely blue. Her ramps are still missing.
LADY OF MANN proceeded to her lay-up berth adjacent the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal in the early afternoon following the completion of her 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool sailing.
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT - arrived at the Bidston Dry Dock of North Western Ship Repairers early on Sunday December 23. A correspondent noted MERSEY MAMMOTH lifting a large section onto the upper after deck. This appears to be a prefabricated accommodation block.
EUROPEAN ENVOY - arrived at Gladstone Lock on December 24 mid morning and proceeded to lay up at West Alexandra South, the same location she occupied during the Christmas and New Year holiday 2000/2001.
EUROPEAN LEADER - has laid up facing EUROPEAN ENVOY at West Alexandra North. North Western Ship Repairers vehicles appeared to be in attendance.
NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES
An extra day time round trip was operated on December 23. Usually daytime sailings do not operate Sundays or Mondays.
BRAVE MERCHANT - moved to Canada Dry Dock - mid morning on December 24. MERCHANT BRAVERY remains laid up in Canada #3 South.
MERSEY DOCKS CHRISTMAS VISITORS
Here is a round up of vessels in the port around mid-day on Christmas Eve, excluding tugs, dredgers, work boats, small craft etc etc:
BIDSTON DRY DOCK
EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT - [ro pax]
STOLT SHEARWATER [Tanker], RIGEL [Tanker] at Union Storage berth, GULF TRADER [Tanker], RAPIDE [Passenger] and SUN CLIPPER [ex SUN PEGASUS] [bulk] north quay. VASILY MOLOTOV [bulk] south quay.
ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY and WOODCHURCH
PONTUS [Terminal], CLAYMORE [passenger], MERCHANT VENTURE [ro/ro].
MOLAT [bulk] # 1 Branch South
BRAVE MERCHANT [ro/pax] Graving Dock
MERCHANT BRAVERY [ro/ro] #3 Branch South
MERSEY VIKING [ro/pax]
ANDREA [coastal bulk] West Langton
PRINCE ALBERT [passenger] West Langton
EUROPEAN ENVOY - [ro/pax] West Alexandra south
EUROPEAN LEADER - [ro/ro] West Alexandra north
LADY OF MANN - [passenger] Alexandra Passenger Terminal
DIMITRIS MANIOS - [bulker] Gladstone #1 north
VECTIS ISLE [coastal bulk]
COASTAL ISLE [coastal container]
DÚN LAOGHAIRE LIFEBOAT
On Christmas Eve Dún Laoghaire Lifeboat launched at noon in keeping with a long-standing tradition of laying a wreath at sea in memory of the 15 volunteer crew who drowned on the same day in 1895, and all deceased seafarers.
The original crew launched during a fierce gale in response to a distress signal from The PALME that was running aground in shallow waters off Blackrock. A large wave capsized the lifeboat and the crew were lost.
A short ecumenical blessing took place on board the current RNLB ANNA LIVIA before the wreath is laid in the vicinity of the last known position of the lifeboat.
Visit Dún Laoghaire Lifeboat web site
STRANGFORD LOUGH FERRY
John Murray writes that the PORTAFERRY II constructed by McTay Marine of Brombrough entered service on the 15:00 sailing from Strangford on Tuesday December 18. She has replaced the STRANGFORD FERRY which is now the standby vessel. The previous standby vessel PORTAFERRY [ex CLEDDAU KING of the fomer Milford Haven - Neyland service] is reported to be going for auction in the new year.
JONATHAN SWIFT carried out successful berthing trials on the fast craft berth 51A on Tuesday 18th December at 23.00 hrs.
The following morning at 06:30 STENA FORWARDER was coming astern on to 51A when a serious malfunction occurred with the ramp which may result in it being out of action for several weeks. STENA FORWARDER had to wait until the ULYSSES sailed at 09.45 to come on to berth 49. She could not use her old berth as the port engineers had been dismantling it for the past few days. All the bits and pieces had to put back together quickly to have it ready for Wednesday evening.
TARBIN MARITIME LTD
SUN CLIPPER [SUN PEGASUS] noted on Saturday as in the process of a name change is to be renamed SUN CLIPPER. She is owned by TARBIN MARITIME LTD of Limassol which is a Syrian originating company based in Cyprus.
The vessel is reclassified with Bureau Veritas who are ensuring all systems operational before issue of appropriate Safety Certificates which will allow her to sail - which owner hopes to be early January but more likely to be more mid January. The vessel spent some time in North Western Shiprepairers Bidston dry dock where the hull was fully overhauled and painted and all apertures to the engine room which had been sealed were opened up.
Various other major overhaul items were also carried out. The more minor items are being done by ships crew. All internals of the holds have been overhauled and painted. The owner hopes to obtain a cargo out of Liverpool to assist in defray of expenses in relocating vessel and eventually she should rejoin other vessels in the owner's fleet which operate East Mediterranean and Black Sea feeder trades.
ADELAIDE STEAMSHIP COMPANY
BRAMLEY MOORE - On December 23, the tug was noted carrying all white superstructure, black hull and with the company's buff/black funnel. Presumably the other former Howard Smith tugs will now follow suit. All appear to have lost the Howard Smith fleet names. If the BRAMLEY MOORE is showing the complete new livery one must say it looks very smart much better than the previous orange/white
THE SHIPPING FORECAST
The shipping forecast, the BBC Radio 4 institution and insomniacs' choice, is to lose one of its most eccentric area names after complaints from Spain.
The name Finisterre, which described an area off north-west Spain, is to be dropped following complaints from the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation that it caused confusion. Finisterre, which has featured in the forecast since 1949, is derived from the ancient belief that the far western tip of Spain was "finis terre", the end of the earth. But Spain uses the term to describe a slightly different, smaller area.
France, which has overall responsibility for forecasts off the Atlantic coast of Europe, was ordered to make Britain change its area name.
From 4th February, British broadcasters will rename the zone FitzRoy, chosen in memory of the founding father of the Met. Office, Admiral Robert FitzRoy, who allegedly committed suicide in 1865 after forecasting the weather wrong.
A spokesman for the Met Office said: "The Spanish were adamant that they wanted to keep their Finisterre. We had no alternative. After all, they have used it for years and it is their patch."
But British fans of the shipping forecast - which is broadcast by the BBC four times a day to thousands of listeners who have never boarded a ship - were quick to complain.
The pressure group, the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, said the forecast's list of names - Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Finisterre, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, South East Iceland - was like a 'familiar poem' that defined British cultural heritage.
The eccentric list of winds and rain had inspired poetry, literature, works of art and tea towels.
The dropping of Finisterre was considered as momentous as the 1956 reforms, when Heligoland was replaced by German Bight.
A member of the Royal Naval Association said: "I hope they don't concede Gibraltar as quickly."
|NOTES & NEWS |
HOLIDAY PERIOD UPDATES
Please note that there will be an additional update on Monday December 24, Christmas Eve. I hope to include details of any vessels noted laying up on Merseyside over the Christmas holiday period.
Also the Sunday December 30 update has been rescheduled for Monday December 31. Both Monday updates should be online by 20:00 GMT.
RAPIDE - Though the vessel has been out of dry dock since December 10 much work appears to be needed. She is currently without her stern ramps as well as the forward extremity of her port hull. Her port side has almost been completely repainted. As yet she retains her Isle of Man Steam Packet roundel, though it appears unlikely she will operate on Isle of Man routes this year with the return of SUPERSEACAT THREE.
CROAZIA JET [ATLANTIC II] it appears that this vessel will be redployed to the English Channel for 2002. The Ancona - Split service probably being covered by SUPERSEACAT TWO even though SS2 appears on the cover of this years Isle of Man Timetables!
ISLE OF MAN ROUTES TIMETABLES 2002
During the autumn of 2001 several enthusiasts investigating the Sea Containers on-line booking system revealed that there were some interesting schedules planned for the LADY OF MANN during what was expected to be a lengthy refit for the BEN-MY-CHREE during the early part of 2002. These schedules actually were actually included in the LADY OF MANN information page on this web site.
However, as the autumn progressed these interesting schedules for the LADY OF MANN disappeared from the booking system to be replaced something slightly more predictable and suggestive of the fact that the BEN-MY-CHREE would not be away for an extensive refit after all.
Later, rumours began to circulate of a triangular service operated Douglas - Liverpool - Dublin - Douglas on Saturdays and vice versa round the triangle on Sundays. Now this is not the first time a triangular service had been rumoured. Back in 1998 when it was hoped that the demise of Duty Free could have been averted there had been a strong rumour of a daily triangular service operated by SUPERSEACATS TWO & THREE for 1999. However, such a service never materialised. It being very doubtful that the Dublin - Douglas section could sustain a daily service anyway even in peak summer.
Now in 2002 a triangular service is a reality at weekends from June 15 through to the end of September. On Saturdays after operating the morning return sailing to Liverpool, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will depart Douglas at 14:00 for Liverpool then sail for Dublin before departing Dublin for Douglas at 22:30.
On Sundays SCIOM will depart Douglas at 14:00 for Dublin from where she will sail to Liverpool where she will depart back to Douglas at 22:45.
This peak weekend scheduling does appear quite imaginative, and though details of the Liverpool to Dublin schedules are still to be published it appears that on Sundays time ashore day trips will be possible to Dublin with passengers being able to return from Dublin on the SCIOM. Furthermore this scheduling provides added capacity on the Liverpool -- Dublin route which matches apparent traffic flows. On Saturdays in peak periods there has been a lack of capacity on the Liverpool - Dublin route and on Sundays this has been apparent in the opposite direction. In a addition the opportunity for a later departure to Dublin from Liverpool on Saturdays and from Dublin on Sundays would be welcomed by many passengers. I must admit from my own point of view I have always regarded the 08:00 departure from Liverpool as being too early for people living any great distance from Liverpool and the early afternoon return from Dublin, just that little too early, especially if one is travelling to Dublin from some distance away.
The additional sailings will also give the company the opportunity to compete more effectively with the accelerated service which will be offered by NorseMerchant Ferries once the Twelve Quays terminal comes on line in the summer.
The rest of the timetable very much follows the pattern for 2001. However, June to September the evening Liverpool to Douglas Saturday evening sailing will depart 30 minutes later and the return Douglas to Liverpool sailing will depart Douglas at 22:15 rather than 21:30. This means a rather late arrival back in Liverpool. Which is rather unfortunate for those on day trips living outside of the city and have to then make their way to the city centre car parks to pick up their cars. As for being able to catch a bus home ......! All I can say is thank goodness I live a reasonably short taxi ride from the terminal!
It is easy to criticise this late arrival back, and I know it its not universally popular, however, it is difficult to see what the alternative is for as long as the evening Douglas - Liverpool sailing is operated by a vessel which has to operate the Liverpool to Dublin route in the earlier part of the day.
The triangular service has resulted in a reduction of SCIOM sailings to Heysham which are generally confined to Monday and Fridays during July and August.
Looking at the timetable it would appear that the LADY OF MANN will go off scheduled service on Sunday February 24 with the 19:00 Liverpool - Douglas. She is of course in the timetables for TT and then makes a reappearance on the 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool on October 26, She then operates the October Irish bank holiday weekend sailings between Douglas and Dublin. The LADY OF MANN re enters service on the sailing Fridays to Sundays from Liverpool at 08:30 [FO] and 19:00 and from Douglas at 13:45 Fridays and Sundays and 07:00 Saturdays and Mondays.
The Christmas holiday period schedules are identical to this year on Heysham, Liverpool and Dublin routes.
Looking at the timetable SuperSeaCat Two gets prominence on the cover - its the usual photo which has been well used before as has some of the other "clip art" one would think Sea Co could come up with something fresher. However it appears that SuperSeaCat Three will be the vessel in use.
The LADY OF MANN barely gets a mention. No photograph, no listing of on board facilities. Considering the substantial investment in her it is very disappointing. Given that it looks as though an Azores charter may not materialise in 2002 it is also disappointing to note that the LADY is not scheduled for use during the summer - unless another charter is hoped for? One wonders why no opportunity was taken to promote any possible LADY OF MANN specials which may be planned around the time of the TT?
As for fares there is little change. Off peak day returns increase by £1.00 peak day returns remain the same £25.00. As only the IoM timetables are available it is not yet clear if the popular ship and Isle of Man Transport combined day trip ticket will be available again this year. One hopes that it will be. The off peak car day excursions also remain at £89.00 but if you are booking the car day trips ex-Liverpool make sure you remind the booking staff of the booking code as most don’t appear to be aware of them at least that was my experience this year! Blue Riband Membership appears is now £165 or £265 for a couple still rising at a rate higher than that of inflation!
SHIPS IN BIRKENHEAD
On the afternoon of December 22, the dredgers SOSPAN-DAU and SOSPAN were noted berthed in Vittoria opposite the berths used by Carmet Towing.
SUN PEGASUS. On Saturday afternoon it was noted that a plank at been suspended below her stern name / port of registry and on it rested an grinding machine. Part of her rear name and registry port had been ground off. She still carries her SUN PEGASUS names above the bridge. She was flying the Maltese Flag - presumably departure is imminent?
The crew of the Looe-based trawler ARRANT watched as bomb disposal experts blew up a First World War torpedo they dredged up while fishing 10 miles out.
PENLEE LIFEBOAT REMEMBERED
The famous Christmas illuminations in the Cornish fishing village of Mousehole were extinguished on the evening of December 19 in memory of the crew of the RNLB SOLOMON BROWNE which was wrecked when aiding the cargo vessel UNION STAR on December 19, 1981. Only an illuminated cross and angels were displayed for part of the evening.
MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY
At about 22.30 on December 19 Liverpool Coastguard received a call on VHF from a fishing vessel PARAMOUNT registered in Wexford operating out of Kilmore Quay stating they were taking in water and were 15 miles south east of Port St. Mary. There were four crew onboard and no injuries had been sustained.
Liverpool Coastguard scrambled RAF rescue helicopter from Valley as well as launching RNLI Port St. Mary and a local fishing vessel TORBRACH-N to the scene.
Pumps were landed onboard to contain the ingress of water that entered through the stern gland in order to keep the vessel afloat. The vessel was then escorted to safety. It had been scalloping and ultimately heading for Howth in Southern Ireland to landing the catch. The weather conditions were reported to be northerly force 5 -6 with moderate seas.
DAVID ABELS SHIPBUILDERS LTD
This week the Bristol Evening Post reported that Bristol's sole remaining shipbuilding company has blamed a south coast ferry company for the fact that it owes creditors more than £450,000.
A creditors’ meeting was called this month to enable David Abels Shipbuilders Ltd, based at Albion Dock, to ask for more time so the owner, David Abels, could settle a dispute with Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company.
But the Portsmouth firm said they have paid all the sums due and they are pursuing a claim for breach of contract. Mr Abels alleged the ferry firm owed him more than £1 million.
Last year the firm, which has 35 staff, secured a contract to build a ferry for the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company and a few months later was awarded a follow-on contract for a second ferry.
The first ferry, SPIRIT OF GOSPORT, is in service but the second, SPIRIT OF PORTSMOUTH, is only partially constructed.
Mr Abels has claimed he was owed 80 per cent of the cost of the second ship and 20 per cent of the first by the ferry company.
He said: “When we were building the second ship, approval was announced to build a light rail transit system under Portsmouth Harbour, which puts the long-term requirement for the ferries in doubt.
“But I’ve committed this company to materials purchased – steel, engines and generators – for the new ferry. Without the payments from the ferry company, David Abels Shipbuilders Ltd doesn’t have the cash to complete the payments.”
Mr Abels said the creditors waiting for his firm to pay them had allowed him until December 28 “to allow time for the legal issues to be resolved”.
In response, Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company said it had paid “all the sums due under the contracts as and when they have been certified for payment”. It said David Abels Shipbuilders had needed to carry out additional work on the SPIRIT OF GOSPORT before the ferry went into use.
Portsmouth Harbour ferry Company said: “The company has notified Abels of a substantial claim for its breach of contract. The termination of the second contract was purely caused by the dispute for the breach of contract and the proposed light rapid transit system had no bearing on the decision.”
Birkenhead MP Frank Field, attacked the Royal Bank of Scotland this week over the sale of the Cammell Laird shipyard to A&P. Mr. Field has told the House of Commons that he will attempt to unseat the board of the Royal Bank of Scotland for its role in the yard's sale. A&P is over 80% owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland
MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY
MSC Launch New Liverpool Service
The Port of Liverpool has been incorporated in the global network of the world's fourth largest container operator, the Mediterranean Shipping Company SA of Geneva.
MSC has launched a weekly service from the West Coast's major port linking with Antwerp, Vigo, Leixoes, Lisbon and Valencia. This will give shippers the opportunity to connect with the complementary MSC services.
The Liverpool service was established with the sailing of the 580 teu MSC VALERIA from the Port's Royal Seaforth Container Terminal.
UK agents for MSC are Medite UK Ltd of Ipswich, whose Managing Director Roy Davies commented: "Having cut my shipping teeth in the Port of Liverpool, I am especially pleased with this new venture."
Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Director of Marketing Frank Robotham described MSC's new service as recognition of Liverpool as the "right place to be".
"The choice of Liverpool as only the second UK gateway for direct calls by MSC ships allows the Line to exploit the port's location benefits and the advantages gained from the £22 million investment in plant, facilities and systems at the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal."
Included in Mersey Docks' redevelopment of the Container Terminal which handles more than half a million units a year, turns ships around in 12 hours and road haulage trucks in an average of less than 40 minutes, was the purchase of five new ship-to-shore gantry cranes, the third of which was commissioned in time for the arrival of the MSC VALERIA.
Christmas services will not operate on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day. On Christmas Eve the final sailing full commuter sailing will be at 17:45 from Liverpool Pier Head. The final departure for Seacombe will be at 18:25.
On New Year's Eve the final heritage cruise departure from Liverpool Pier Head will be at 13:00. Final departure for Seacombe only will be at 14:00
MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL CRUISES 2002
The 2002 Manchester Ship Canal Cruise programme has been published on the Mersey Ferries web site at: http://www.merseyferries.co.uk/special_cruises/#manchester
|NOTES & NEWS |
ROYAL IRIS PHOTOGRAPHS
A reminder that photographs showing the arrival of the ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY [ex-Mountwood] arriving back at the Mersey Ferries lay-up berth on Sunday were posted Sunday evening - check "What's New" for details.
BT email has been rather erratic the past 24 hours or so. I appear to be able to send okay, but receiving incoming messages has been difficult Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lost tax free sales and the consequences of the foot-and-mouth epidemic has meant lost revenues for Stena Line in the SEK billion range. The epidemic alone has this year contributed negatively to the result with SEK 200 million. Fuel costs has increased with SEK 218 million during 2000-2001. Altogether, Stena Line anticipates a loss of SEK 475 million for 2001 (SEK 800 million 2000) on a SEK 7,800 million turn over.
But according to the company a light can be seen in the end of the tunnel. Next year, the prognosis is a loss of SEK 150 million and a profit is expected during 2003. Contributing factors are the cost reductions that amounted to SEK 342 million 2000 and that will have a SEK 130 million effect this year. The savings has mainly been achieved through personnel lay-offs and a more flexible manning system. One very important factor for the optimism according to MD Bo Severed is the new Swedish shipping policy. This will strengthen Stena Line's economy with SEK 200 million on a yearly basis. Swedish Scandlines, acquired by Stena Line last year, contributes with a SEK 40 million surplus this year and from P&O Stena Line, another SEK 166 million is anticipated.
Stena Line has also managed to increase prices for both passenger tickets and cargo without losing volume. Of course, the acquisition of Scandlines has contributed to this in Scandinavia. In the UK, Stena Line believes that the foot-and-mouth effect now is over.
I have received a statement from the former owners concerning the raising of the sailing vessel Glaciere which was noted in a recent news bulletin:
"The previous owners of Glaciere are pleased to be able to confirm that she has now been raised and that her title has been passed to new trustees who are proceeding immediately with a full refurbishment.
The previous owners, despite exploring many avenues, had not been able to identify the funding to both raise her in accordance with the demanding procedural strictures of the MD&HCo and then proceed immediately with a full rebuilding programme as they required. Discussions took place with various trusts and with two previous owners on the Continent and in the USA, the latter of whom came over to meet with the MD&HCo. Diving companies who had offered to be involved also held independent discussions with other interested parties, which fortuitously resulted in the involvement of the new trustees.
"During the raising of the vessel, a specific reason for her having gone down was identified, the nature of which justifies the view of her owners and shopkeepers at that time that she was safely laid up and properly cared for, and that the particular occurrence could not have been forseen.
It is exceptionally pleasing to all concerned that Glaciere now has a renewed future, and the previous owners would like to thank all those who continued to take an interest in helping this fine old vessel to survive into her second century."
SS GREAT BRITAIN
The Bristol Evening Post reports that the ss Great Britain, will be in the spotlight thanks to the generosity of Bristol donors who gave nearly £10,000 for lights to illuminate the famous ship, making her more of a landmark at night, as well as improving security. And the ss Great Britain charity is hoping it will raise the profile of the ship at a time when it needs to raise funds towards the £11 million required for her conservation and future development. Charity chairman Roger Smedley said: "We conducted tests with various lighting systems including rope lights between the masts, spot lights that shot beams up and down the masts and floodlights at various locations around the dockside and on deck. "The final effect is achieved with floodlights located either side of the bow and a set at the stern. Thanks to the support of many people, the ship will be bathed in light, allowing excellent views at night."
JAMES FISHER & SONS PLC
With regard to the late news item contained in the last update the press reports were not inaccurate regarding the ship's name. The ROSETHORN has indeed been renamed the ROSEBANK.
MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY
LIVERPOOL BOUND CARGO SHIP FOUNDERS
The eight crew on board the Barbados registered cargo vessel DINA sent out a Mayday and then promptly abandoned ship to their liferafts when the ship listed to port and became partially submerged before sinking at 09:35 on December 16 about 40 miles south west of St Ann's Head, South Wales.
Milford Haven Coastguard picked up the Mayday at 6:33 a.m. and as the warship HMS BLYTHE was in the vicinity at the time, her crew rescued the eight men from their liferafts keeping them on board until the RAF rescue helicopter from Chivenor arrived on scene to airlift the eight to Withybush Hospital in Haverford West.
The Master was said to be suffering from mild hypothermia, whilst the remaining seven are thought to be reasonably well after the ordeal.
The 1655 gross tonne vessel was on passage from Rotterdam to Liverpool when the incident happened and was carrying a cargo of 2430 metric tons of Flurospar and 35 tons of marine gas oil as bunker fuel.
Milford Haven Coastguard issued a navigation warning to vessels in the area. The RAF helicopter has flown over the area and spotted a small oil slick, which is dissipating.
Weather on scene was wind force four to five.
PLEASURE BOAT OWNER PROSECUTED FOLLOWING DANGEROUS INCIDENT OFF ST IVES
At a hearing on December 18 the owner/skipper of a small pleasure vessel pleaded guilty to failing to ascertain the condition of his vessel after it had grounded on rocks and for failing to report the accident to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Camborne Magistrates Court fined John Marsh, aged 48 of St Ives, a total of £1500 for breaches of the Survey and Certification Regulations. A contribution to MCA costs of £500 was also awarded. The magistrates took in to consideration Mr Marsh’s full co-operation with the investigation and his guilty plea when determining the fine level.
The prosecution follows an incident off St Ives on 20th August 2001 when Mr Marsh, owner/skipper of the pleasure vessel TRINKET struck rocks whilst taking a group of holidaymakers to view the seals basking on rocks west of St Ives.
Following the grounding Mr Marsh failed to ascertain the condition of his vessel by inspecting it on the spot and also failed to report the incident to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. He then continued to take holidaymakers to sea for the rest of the day. The following day the Maritime & Coastguard Agency became aware of the incident. Surveyors from the Agency immediately inspected the vessel and found various safety defects. As a result the vessel was detained.
Surveyor in Charge, Chris Moss, of the MCA's Falmouth Marine Office, said:
" A person in charge of any vessel taking holidaymakers to sea has full responsibility for the safety of the people in his care. The MCA does not hesitate to act when this responsibility is neglected. The owners and operators of similar vessels should take careful note of today's proceedings."
|NOTES & NEWS |
THE NAME IT IS A CHANGING
Early in the autumn I had suggested that there might be a change in the name of the web site and I had also been looking at the possibility of a new domain name. However, following suggestions from a number of people I have decided that www.merseyshipping.co.uk will remain the domain URL and this has now been renewed for a further two years.
Whilst the domain name will be retained I have decided to shorten the title of the site to Irish Sea Shipping. This will be phased in over the next two updates in readiness for the new year.
NEW WEB SITE
In the very near future I will be launching a new web site which will be hosted on my former Cybase web space previously occupied by the M&ISS archive material. This should be up and running within the next few weeks. I am currently in the process of uploading much of the archive material which once appeared on the old Cybase site to the Files and Photographs area of the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo group to maintain its availability.
John H. Luxton December 15, 2001.
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Michael Pryce, Kevin Bennett, Brian Chambers and "others"
REMEMBER THE LIFEBOATS THIS CHRISTMAS
This December as our thoughts turn towards the coming Christmas and New Year festivities it is appropriate that we should take a moment to recall that this month marks the 20th Anniversary of the Cornwall's worst lifeboat disaster. A disaster which claimed the lives of eight members of the small Cornish fishing village of Mousehole near Newlyn just as the village was preparing to celebrate Christmas.
On December 19, 1981 RNLB SOLOMON BROWNE was wrecked whilst attempting to save the lives of the UNION STAR [1,400grt]. The UNION STAR registered in Dublin [Union Transport Plc] was on its maiden voyage from Ijmuiden to Arklow. Whilst off the Penwith peninsular the ship lost power due to sea water contamination of the fuel oil. Weather conditions were atrocious with south easterly winds blowing to force 12 and wave heights reaching 60ft. With no power the UNION STAR was drifting back towards the treacherous shore near Tater Dhu lighthouse.
Attempts were made to rescue the crew via naval helicopter, however, due to the conditions it was not possible to effect a rescue. Despite the conditions the SOLOMON BROWNE put to sea running down the slip at Penlee Lifeboat Station under the command of Coxswain William Trevelyan Richards. Coxwain Richards realising the danger would only take one crewman from each family.
The SOLOMON BROWNE succeeded in rescuing 4 members of the UNION STAR'S crew, before radio contact was lost.
A widespread search was undertaken of the area by lifeboats from Lizard, Sennen and St. Mary's stations aided by helicopters, Coastguard teams and local fishing vessels. However, the crew of the SOLOMON BROWNE and UNION STAR had all perished.
Coxwain William Trevelyan Richards was awarded the RNLI medal for outstanding gallantry. The RNLI Bronze Medal was awarded to the remainder of the crew: Second Coxswain/Mechanic James Stephen Madron, Assistant Mechanic Nigel Brockman, Emergency Mechanic John Robert Blewett, and crewmen Charles Thomas Greenhaugh, Kevin Smith, Barrie Robertson Torrie and Gary Lee Wallis
This Christmas also marks the 106th Anniversary of the Dún Laoghaire Kingstown Lifeboat Disaster. On December 24, 1895 RNLB CIVIL SERVICE No 7 put to sea to attempt the rescue of the barque PALME.
CIVIL SERVICE No 7, was rowed out by her crew into appalling conditions, and was almost alongside the stricken ship when she was overwhelmed by heavy seas. There were no survivors from her 15 man crew which comprised:
Ironically, the entire crew of the PALME were rescued on St Stephen’s Day by the Commissioners of Irish Lights Tender TEARAGHT.
Each year the crew of the Dún Laoghaire lifeboat lay a wreath at the disaster site. This Christmas as we give gifts and cards to our family and friends remember those gallant men and women who crew the lifeboats around our shores and who are prepared to give everything to aid those in peril on the sea. Whilst you are eating your Christmas dinner there may be a lifeboat out on a "shout". If you are making charitable donations to this Christmas remember the RNLI and help support the lifeboats service You may only give some change they might give their lives.
LATE NEWS: CARNIVAL TO BID FOR P&O PRINCESS?
Late on Saturday December 15, Reuters reported that Carnival Corporation is poised to launch a £2.5 billion counter bid for P&O Princess, which in November agreed to merge with Royal Caribbean Cruises according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph.
Miami-based Carnival, the world's biggest cruise group, has appointed investment bank UBS Warburg to prepare a counter bid which could come before the end of the year, the paper said.
Carnival is due to report fourth quarter figures on Thursday and the paper said the company could be pressed by investors and analysts to clarify its intentions.
London-based P&O Princess, which will take a place in the FTSE 100 index of top British shares later in December, last month announced a tie up with Royal Caribbean of Miami, Florida.
Under the deal no shares or cash will change hands and Royal Caribbean and P&O Princess will retain their separate stock market listings. The combined entity will be headquartered in Miami, and will be led by Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Richard Fain
The Carnival Corporation is the parent group to Costa Crociere, Cunard and several other cruise lines. and is the company responsible for the demise of the Merseyside ship builders Cammell Laird plc when it suddenly cancelled the contract to lengthen the COSTA CLASSICA during November 2000. Cammell Laird went into receivership in April 2001 as a direct result of Carnival-Costa's actions.
LATE NEWS: JAMES FISHER & SONS PLC
ROSETHORN - Media News reports on Saturday indicated that a fire had broken out on the Cargo ship "ROSEBANK" in the North Sea. However, the BBC TV News showed the ROSETHORN which still carries the funnel markings of Coe-Metcalf and is owned by James Fisher and SOns Plc of Barrow-in-Furness.
Five members of the ship's crew had to be airlifted to safety after the ROSETHORN caught fire off the Northumberland coast.
The ship was carrying fertiliser from Dundee to the Channel Islands when fire broke out near the Farne Islands, off the north-east coast of England.
Fire destroyed the ship's bridge and continued until the firefighting tug PHOENIX CROSS arrived to put out the flames. The initial distress call was picked up by HMS ANGLESEY at 22:56 on Friday December 14.
SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
RAPIDE departed from Bidston Dry Dock on December 10 at 07:15 and moved to the West Float.
LADY OF MANN - LAST OF THE LINE
The second edition of John Shepherd's book "LADY OF MANN - Last of the Line" has just been published. It is dedicated to the memory of Captain Vernon Kinley and the introduction is by Hamish Ross.
Available direct from Ferry Publications: www.ferrypubs.co.uk at £5.40 incl P&P or in due course from the usual bookshops at £4.50.
ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT TRANSPORT
Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for November 2001 at 26,133 show a 44.1% increase on the figure for the same period in 2000 which was 18,135.
The year to date figure at 539,578 passengers shows an 8.4% decrease over the same period in 2000 which was 588,893.
During November car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 41.9% from 5,440 vehicles to 7,718 vehicles.
The year to date figure at 125,615 vehicles shows a 17.7% decrease over the same period in 2000 which was 152,602.
Scheduled Routes show the following changes in passenger numbers for November:-
November commercial vehicles metreage increased by 6.6% from 35,190 metres to 37,524 metres.
Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:
Passenger figures for November 2001 are record figures for any November and show a significant increase over last year’s figures. This month’s figure highlights the strong ongoing growth in underlying passenger traffic which has been masked this year by the loss of traffic from sporting events cancelled as a result of the Foot and Mouth crisis.
JONATHAN SWIFT remained in Canada Graving Dock longer than anticipated. She had been due to return to service on December 10, however, she did not take up service on the Dublin - Holyhead route until Friday morning December 14.
NORMANDY will be deputising in January 2002 for the ISLE OF INISHMORE when she refits. The usual delays which occur when this ship operates the Rosslare - Pembroke route are expected!
WAVERLEY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
The company advises that the price published on the Waverley News for Life Commodore tickets was incorrect. The price should have read £2,950 and not £1,795.
MAIB PUBLISHES REPORT INTO KONINGIN BEATRIX
The Marines Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) this week published the report of its investigation into the loss of a man overboard from KONINGIN BEATRIX. The accident occurred in the Irish Sea on 29 October 2000.
On Sunday 29 October 2000, the MAIB was informed of a fatal man overboard accident from the Stena Line ferry KONINGIN BEATRIX in the Irish Sea. The investigation was originally an administrative enquiry and was upgraded to a full investigation on 27 November. MAIB inspector Andrew Clifton led the investigation and visited the vessel on 5 December, assisted by two other inspectors.
KONINGIN BEATRIX departed Rosslare at 10:40 on 29 October 2000 bound for Fishguard. She was carrying 1,092 passengers and 105 crew. The weather was south-westerly force 7 to 8. At 11:45 the bridge was informed that three passengers had seen a man in the water. The vessel was turned and, with another nearby vessel, started a search and rescue operation. The master considered the weather too rough to safely lower a rescue boat. The man was sighted several times and between 12:30 and 12:38 was reportedly very close to the vessel's starboard side.
At 12:38 he passed around the vessel's bow and was then seen floating face down. At around 13:00 he was picked up by an Irish coastguard helicopter and taken to Wexford hospital. He was declared dead at 16:05.
The victim had fallen overboard from KONINGIN BEATRIX. However, as there were no witnesses, it is not known if he fell accidentally or intentionally.
The investigation into the rescue attempt concluded that the master was justified in not lowering a rescue boat in the prevailing weather conditions. However, there was no clear plan once the decision was made not to lower a rescue boat and there were no detailed company procedures to cover this circumstance.
Stena Line is recommended to:
1. Amend its company standing orders and operational procedures manual, sections 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 and man overboard emergency checklist, to ensure the same actions are listed in the same order of priority.
2. Amend its company standing orders and operational procedures manual, sections 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 to include more detailed procedures to be taken in the event of a man overboard in conditions which do not allow the lowering of a rescue boat.
3. Modify its bridge wing lifebuoy arrangements on company vessels with an enclosed bridge so that the lifebuoy can be released from within the bridge.
4. Amend its company standing orders and operational procedures to include management of next of kin following a man overboard or other emergency incident.
5. Remind all crew, regardless of rank, to respond to passenger comments during an emergency situation with polite, authoritative and calm responses.
6. Consider sending its deck officers on Bridge Team Management Training.
7. Undertake a written risk assessment regarding the use of the fast rescue boat and rescue boats in adverse weather conditions.
8. Undertake a written risk assessment regarding passenger use of the outside decks, which face overboard, during weather conditions which preclude the lowering of rescue boats.
ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY
The company is to make a charge of £50 to cover insurance costs of pilot gigs transported to the islands for the World Pilot Gig Championships in 2001. However, a charge of £250 will be made for those crews who use the SCILLONIAN III or GRY MARITHA to carry their boats but who do not travel by Steamship Company ship or aircraft.
There had been a suggestion that fewer boats and crews would attend next spring's championships due to the charges though Scilly News reports [ www.scillynews.co.uk ]that the Steamship Company had not had any clubs call to cancel.
NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES
MERCHANT BRAVERY was noted at Canada #3 Branch Dock on Saturday December 15 alongside DAWN MERCHANT.
One would presume she has relocated to Merseyside to provide cover for LAGAN VIKING which is due for refit at A&P Falmouth on December 24.
HM CUSTOMS & EXCISE
On December 12 it was reported that Customs officers on the River Mersey have made of one of the country's largest ever drug seizures.
About 600 kilos of high-grade cocaine, with an estimated value of Pounds 38m, was found in a HM Customs and Excise operation at the Seaforth Terminal. The drugs were discovered on board general cargo VERUDA (17109 grt, built 1982, registered Liberia) which had arrived in Liverpool from Panama via the United States when the seizure was made on Dec 3.
An HM Customs spokesman confirmed the cocaine was bound for British streets and said such a large consignment would have taken weeks to distribute. Customs officers said they discovered the drugs concealed in industrial-sized rolls of brown paper inside six container drums. They became suspicious about a couple of the containers and the drugs were discovered when they were opened up. "It is the largest seizure we have ever had in Liverpool and one of the largest in the UK. Investigations are under way, but no-one has been arrested." The VERUDA arrived in Liverpool on December 2 and departed on December 4 bound for for Gdynia.
MERSEY DOCKS AND HARBOUR COMPANY
The first of three new ship-to-shore gantry cranes has been moved onto the quayside at the Port of Liverpool's Royal Seaforth Container Terminal ready for work later this week.
In a delicate hour long operation, the 64 metre high structure with a 42.5 metre long boom, was trundled 200 metres from the construction compound, carried by two computer controlled vehicles.
The new crane, one of five ordered by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, is expected to be commissioned today (Tues) and put to work on its first ship tomorrow (Wed).
A second new crane will make the same journey on Friday and a third is expected to be ready for action by the end of January.
All three were shipped across to Liverpool in knock-down form from the Irish plant of manufacturer Liebherr Container Cranes Limited in Killarney, County Kerry. They were then constructed in a compound within the Container Terminal.
As soon as the first crane was ready, it was lifted off the ground and transported on the 176 wheels of two self propelled computer controlled transporters guided by project supervisor Bob Hardy of Abnormal Load Engineering of Stafford.
Bob walked ahead of the giant load using a hand held control unit to transfer it to the quayside rails.
The multi-million pound orders for all five cranes were placed by Mersey Docks as part of a £22 million investment in the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal which handles over half a million units a year.
The enhanced technology of the gantries provides faster movement of containers on and off ships, plus major reductions in the time taken for the boom of the crane to be lowered and lifted. It also allows safe working in higher wind speeds.
The new cranes will further streamline the performance of the UK's most efficient container terminal which regularly turns container ships around in less than 12 hours and averages less than 40 minutes for servicing road haulage vehicles, gate to gate.
MERSEY DOCKS RESULTS DISAPPOINTS
On Friday December 14, the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company share price fell dramatically when the company warned that the full year profits to December 2001 will be below market forecasts, though they will still be higher than £51.9m reported for the previous year.
Market analysts had been forecasting profits of around £60m for the period.
Mersey Docks and Harbour Company blame the deterioration of international trade, which had been identified in the interim report and which has deteriorated further in the second half of the year.
Container, forest products, general cargo, dry bulks and liquid bulks market sectors all show reduced volumes in comparison with the second half of 2000, the company said.
PORT OF LIVERPOOL BUILDING
The imposing Port of Liverpool Building at the Pier Head which was placed on the market earlier this year has been sold to GMD Investments for £12.75m. Sale of the building which was once the company's HQ until eight years ago has contributed around £1.1m to the property division's operating profits. The sale has given rise to an exceptional profit of £4.3m in the accounts.
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR will operate a Dublin to Cherbourg service every weekend
from June to September 2002.
The EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR will depart from Dublin every Saturday afternoon and return from Cherbourg every Sunday afternoon.
P&O AT ROSSLARE by Brian Chambers
EUROPEAN SEAFARER last sailing into Rosslare Europort will be on December 22, 2001, she will depart the port for the last time, and will go to Dry Dock.
CELTIC STAR will be in Rosslare Europort on the Rosslare/Cherbourg route on January 5, 2002, standing in for the PO EUROPEAN SEAFARER, and will leave the service when the EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT arrives.
EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT [ex Pride of Suffolk] will be in Rosslare Europort on the 12 Jan 2002, she will be able to carry up to 100 trailers, and 107 passengers, this ship will be on the Rosslare/Cherbourg Freight Route for P and O Freight.
MARINES & NAVY DIVERS RESCUED
A mobile phone helped rescue 12 divers off North Devon's coast when their inflatable boats became swamped. The Navy and Marine personnel based in North Devon had been diving off Lundy on Saturday and were taken to safety by a Chivenor RAF rescue helicopter and Appledore's RNLI lifeboat. The group had travelled to the dive site in two rigid inflatable boats. On the return journey, approximately 12 miles from the mainland, the boats became swamped and damaged. One began to sink. A mobile phone call was made to the marine emergency service. The helicopter winched five people to safety and five were rescued by the lifeboat. Two stayed on board one of the boats and they were towed in. John Sibley, watch manager at Swansea Lifeguard said: "Fortunately the weather had been kind to them. There was good visibility and a moderate sea. These divers are very experienced and took all the necessary precautions. However accidents can happen to the best prepared party and our advice is always to prepare for the worst."
RTÉ's Seascapes reported this week that the RNLI and Wexford Harbour Inshore Rescue (WHIR) have agreed that an RNLI Lifeboat Station will operate from the existing WHIR site at Wexford Harbour Boat Club for a period of evaluation from early next year. Following an approach from the WHIR team earlier this year, discussions have been taking place between both groups to explore the possibility of adopting the community rescue boat into the RNLI. It is hoped that the site at Wellington Place adjacent to Wexford Bridge, currently earmarked for WHIR will be developed as a permanent RNLI Lifeboat Station. Wexford Harbour Inshore Lifeboat Station will become the 41st RNLI Lifeboat station in Ireland and the 5th in County Wexford. The RNLI previously operated a Lifeboat station at the Fort in the entrance to Wexford Harbour prior to moving to Rosslare Harbour.
SEA & SHORE SAFETY SERVICES
Marine safety specialists, Sea & Shore Safety Services, has celebrated 15 years of working for a safer environment for all water users in Ireland. The event was marked at the 2001 Annual general Meeting, during which two Safety Awards were presented honouring a major contribution to safety on the water - whether at sea or upon inland waterways - rivers, lakes and canals.
Since 1986 Sea & Shore Safety has provided training for both professional seafarers and leisure sailors alike. From courses on Sea Survival to Jetty Safety and Rescue Boat Handling, Sea & Shore Safety Services has played an integral role in the drive to make Ireland’s waters a safer place for all.
Speaking at the company’s Annual General Meeting recently, Sea & Shore Safety Services’ Managing Director Capt. Michael Langran commented: "I am proud as we celebrate our 15th birthday - 15 year of achievement and growth which, I hope, has made water users think a little bit before they set off from shore."
In the last 12 months the Sea & Shore fleet has been enhanced with the purchase of a RIB fast rescue boat to meet the requirements of new rules for ferries. Irish Sea companies benefiting from this expansion include Irish Ferries, Stena Line and Sea Containers. A tailor made course for Waterways Ireland was also provided.
In addition to the new RIB four new Polish life rafts were also purchased from Arklow Shipping with another two being delivered courtesy of Tom Whelan of Solas Marine. These will be used for the ever popular Sea Survival Courses.
During the course of the year the British Marine and Coastguard Agency approved the company’s Efficient Deck Hand, Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat, Fast Rescue Boat, Proficiency in Survival Techniques and Elementary First Aid courses which will be carried out in Holyhead.
"It is a pity that there are still no positive moves towards establishing a small training centre in the Dublin area with the resultant saving of the current extra cost to the Irish shipowner, and, in addition , the UK shipowner can claim a training grant for his seafarers when attending one of our courses in the U.K.", Capt. Langran said.
Catering for the Customer
While Sea & Shore’s customers for shipping courses continue to come from, Irish Ferries, Stena Line in Holyhead and Stranraer, Irish Lights and Swansea Cork Ferries, special courses have also been run throughout Ireland for diverse organisations including Waterways Ireland, the ESB, (Electricity Supply Board) the OPW (Office of Public Works), Rosslare, Dublin and Waterford Ports, the Garda (Irish Police) Water Unit, Iralco and the Geological Survey Office.
Further a field, Sea & Shore instructors have provided courses to a number of cruise ships in Scotland, the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal, the Mediterranean. One instructor, Mr Kit Cummins actually went as far as Tahiti!
Safety Audits play a large part in Sea & Shore’s activities and recently audits have been provided on board survey ships, on fish farms, and at the ESB jetty at Moneypoint.
Appointment of New General Manager
Capt. Paul Miley is the new General Manager of Sea & Shore Safety Services. With responsibility for the day to day operation of the company, Paul is well qualified for the role having trained with Irish Shipping Ltd. He also served with a number of shipping companies including Island Navigation, Mitsui OSK Lines and, until recently, he was in command with Associated Bulk Shipping (formerly P & O Bulk Carries)
Awards for a major contribution to safety on the water
Each year since 1991 the company has presented the Sea & Shore Safety Services Award
to a person or an organisation who has made a major contribution to safety on the water - whether at sea or upon our inland waterways - rivers, lakes and canals.
Recipients in past years have represented a wide spectrum of activities or personal endeavour and have included the major shipping companies in Ireland, the ESB Generating Station at Moneypoint and the crews of the Search & Rescue Helicopter in Shannon.
Individuals have included Ms. Joan Ginley for her constant struggle to improve safety in the fishing industry, Captain Frank Forde of the former B&I Line ferry Leinster, for his role as on scene commander during the night of the loss of the container vessel Kilkenny in Dublin Bay and Mr. Tom McSweeney, editor of the RTE radio programme Seascapes, who has constantly provided safety advice and warnings to all those at sea around Ireland. Last year's recipients were the staff of Met Eireann and those in the Irish Coastguard Service - both organisations continue to make a major contribution to safety at sea.
The awards for 2001 were presented to Garda Water Unit, and Captain Kevin McHugh of the Atlantic Dawn by Mr Tom McSweeney of RTE.
Speaking at the presentation Capt. Langran said: "The Garda Underwater Unit - with whom we have been proud to be associated in their marine training programmes - are very much the unsung heroes - and heroines - of water related disasters, frequently being called in when everyone has failed and often in the most appalling conditions. Long may they be there for those in trouble in the water."
Captain Kevin McHugh has put his heart and soul into the national fishing industry- not only in upgrading the standard of vessels under the Irish flag but also ensuring that his crews are working in the safest possible environment.
In 2000 he took delivery of the new super trawler Atlantic Dawn and contracted Sea & Shore Safety to assess her safety training needs. "We found a ship fitted with the finest safety equipment in the world and, as a result of our recommendations, he asked us to send a team of six instructors to Killybegs where we carried out survival at sea training for the whole crew and on-board practical training for her fire fighting teams and her lifeboat crews which included a mock "abandon ship" exercise." Capt Langran commented.
In closing, Capt Langran said: "We feel that the fishing industry would be a lot safer work place if others were to follow Kevin's lead."
|NOTES & NEWS |
Welcome to this week's update. Some space has been given over in the bulletin to the disturbing news that the proposed Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act may have some impact on our hobby especially those who follow the activities of the Barrow based company James Fisher and their managed nuclear carriers.
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Lawlor, Mike Pryce, Dave Crolley and "others".
SHIP ENTHUSIASTS & ANTI TERRORISM, CRIME & SECURITY ACT
This week my attention was drawn by a correspondent to an article in Lloyds List with regard to the provisions of the UK Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill which is currently making its way through parliament.
Should the bill become law it may have an adverse effect on enthusiasts recording and reporting on the activities of the PNTL / BNFL ships managed by James Fisher that are based at Barrow-in-Furness.
Section 79 of the bill currently before Parliament contains the following provision:
" Prohibition of disclosures in relation to nuclear security
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he discloses any information or thing the disclosure of which might prejudice the security of any nuclear site or of any nuclear material—
(a) with the intention of prejudicing that security; or (b) being reckless as to whether the disclosure might prejudice that security.
(2) The reference in subsection (1) to nuclear material is a reference to— (a) nuclear material which is being held on any nuclear site, or (b) nuclear material anywhere in the world which is being transported to or from a nuclear site or carried on board a British ship, (including nuclear material which is expected to be so held, transported or carried).
(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable— (a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or a fine (or both); and (b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (or both).
(4) In this section— "British ship" means a ship (including a ship belonging to Her Majesty) which is registered in the United Kingdom; "disclose" and "disclosure", in relation to a thing, include parting with possession of it; "nuclear material" has the same meaning as in section 76 .... "
Reading the provision of this bill it is clear that enthusiasts could end up in "deep water" if they were to report on the movements of the PNTL/BNFL vessels.
Sufficient concerns exist for Lloyd's List to publish a lengthy article on the subject or reporting on the nuclear vessels. Lloyd's List sates " Although the government ordered the suspension of Lloyd's List on national security grounds in both the First and Second World Wars, this is believed to be the first time selective restrictions have been proposed. Even at the height of the cold war, for instance, we were freely able to report on worldwide movements of British, US and Russian merchant vessels".
However the article says that material giving information on the movements of such vessels could quite legally be covered by foreign-based shipping publications and other media, in most cases freely available on the internet! This of course makes a mockery of the provisions of the bill.
Whilst not trying to be alarmist the potential for enthusiasts falling foul of the proposed legislation obviously exists. The Government may of course have other motives for wanting to keep details of the movements of the nuclear ships secret, other than protecting the cargoes from possible terrorist threat. It is well known that various environmental pressure groups, in particular Greenpeace, actively campaign against nuclear cargoes. However, laws exist to deal with Greenpeace or other eco-warriors should they transgress. Suppression of information under pain of imprisonment or fine concerning what is essentially a commercial shipping activity is not acceptable. It has serious civil liberties issues. This is supposedly free and democratic Britain not the cold war Soviet Union.
Bringing down a veil of secrecy over the movements of merchant vessels is not a healthy development. Legislation needs to be well thought out to ensure it catches those who pose a threat to society. Unfortunately this new legislation could make respectable ship enthusiasts out-laws and needs to be reviewed.
Currently there are twelve Aviation Enthusiasts incarcerated in Greece and being treated in a manner which would be expected from a "banana republic" not a member of the European Union. The application of section 79 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act here in the UK might possibly be the thin end of the wedge by which the harmless activities of shipping, railway and aviation enthusiasts are looked upon in a less favourable light by the authorities.
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens in the coming months should the bill be successfully passed as the UK government has pledged itself to do. PACIFIC SANDPIPER [photographed above in Bidston Dock] and her fleetmates might soon be flying the ensign of another country which has joined the "Union of Banana Republics" - Great Britain!
SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
PONTUS the floating terminal was taken from North Western Ship Repairer's Bidston Dry Dock late last week and berthed in Vittoria Dock where work is expected to be completed in January.
RAPIDE - On Saturday December 8 the vessel was afloat. She has retained her "Legs of Mann" logo despite some predictions she might not serve on routes to Douglas in 2002.
STANDARD & POOR'S LOWERS SEA CONTAINERS RATINGS
On December 3, 2001 Standard & Poor's, lowered its ratings on Sea Containers Ltd. and removed them from CreditWatch, where they were placed with negative implications on May 5, 2000. The current outlook is negative.
The downgrade results from the company's weakened credit ratios that are due to reduced earnings and cash flow that are not expected to improve materially for the foreseeable future.
The ratings on Sea Containers reflect strong competitive positions in several cyclical businesses, offset by a somewhat weak financial profile. Sea Containers is the holding company for three major businesses: passenger transport, leisure, and marine cargo container leasing. Passenger transport includes passenger and vehicle ferry services in the English Channel, the Irish Sea, the Northern Baltic Sea, port operations in the U.K., and passenger rail service between London and Scotland (Great North Eastern Railway). Leisure operations include the company's approximate 63% stake in Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., which owns or manages 37 deluxe hotels, tourist trains, river cruise ships and restaurants located around the world. Marine cargo container leasing primarily includes Sea Containers' share of its joint venture with General Electric Capital Corp., known as GESeaCo SRL, one of the largest marine cargo container lessors in the world.
Sea Containers' 2001 earnings have been hurt by a variety of factors. Utilization rates and pricing for the marine cargo container fleet have remained weak due to an ongoing high level of overcapacity, exacerbated by the global economic downturn, which has resulted in reduced demand for goods transported by ship. Leisure operations have been negatively affected by reduced travel due to the economic downturn, as well the impact of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. However, the company's passenger transport operations have recovered due to lower fuel costs and the return to more normal operations on GNER after a series of fatal accidents over the last year.
Sea Containers had intended to sell an additional five million shares of Orient-Express in late 2001, after the initial public offering in August 2000, with proceeds used to reduce debt, and then to spin off the balance of its stake soon afterward. However, with the weaker outlook for the leisure industry, these plans have been deferred. Should this occur, it will likely have a negative impact on the company's credit profile due to the reduced level of asset value and cash flow available to service debt. Even without the spin-off, Sea Containers' credit measures have weakened in 2001 due to reduced earnings and cash flow, and are not expected to improve materially in the foreseeable future.
If the impact from the economic downturn is more prolonged or severe than expected or Sea Containers spins off the balance of its Orient-Express stake, the company's credit profile would weaken further. Either event could result in a downgrade.
RATINGS LOWERED AND REMOVED FROM CREDITWATCH
Sea Containers Ltd. To From
Corporate credit rating BB BB+
Senior unsecured debt B+ BB-
Subordinated debt B+ BB-
ISLE OF INISHMORE due to technical problems with a bow thruster the ship missed her sailing from Rosslare on December 3
WAVERLEY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
WAVERLEY will operate sailings from Liverpool again during 2002 on Tuesday and Wednesday June 18 & 19. One hopes that the company realises that operating such a short number of cruises on a week day discriminates against those who have to work! Perhaps a weekend visit would be more appropriate in 2003?
BALMORAL will operate on the Irish Sea during spring.
ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY [MOUNTWOOD] was refloated on December 4. She is due to move from Clarence Dry Dock to the Mersey Ferries berth in the East Float on December 21. It is understood that sea trials are scheduled for January 4 and she should be available for service from January 28. The vessel has spent much of the year in dry dock as a result of the collapse of Cammell Laird plc, proprietors of Warbreck Engineering and operators of the Clarence Dry Docks.
MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY
This week an EU ruling recommended that boatmen and river pilots employed by the MD&HC s should be excluded from legislation allowing port authorities to hire and fire who they want.
Local press reports indicate that this development will come as a blow as it was hoped that such historical employment agreements could have been scrapped.
These include extra payments for being called out without six hours' notice, and double pay if the schedule on any particular job changes.
The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in Liverpool said it was disappointed to hear of the news.
NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES
LAGAN VIKING is due for dry docking at A&P Falmouth on December 24.
ADELAIDE STEAMSHIP COMPANY
Adsteam Tugs [Formerly Howard Smith Towage] may be affected by industrial action following a vote in favour strike action by over 200 tug crews. This includes the 59 crew based in Liverpool.
Crews are seeking improved pensions and have voted overwhelmingly by 163 in favour of strike action and by 173 for industrial action short of a strike.
If industrial action does take place tug services at other ports served by Adsteam such as London, Southampton and Felixstowe could be disrupted. Further meetings with the company are planned before strike dates are fixed.
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
A new Liverpool to Larne service will be inaugurated during early January between Liverpool and Larne. The chartered vessel CELTIC STAR will operate the service.
This week the Belfast Telegraph reported that two catamarans that are due to operate a new commuter service in Belfast Lough have been advertised for sale. The newspaper also revealed that the two Australian businessmen who were originally behind the £4m venture have sold out their interest to a local consortium.
But Loughlink, the company promoting the proposed ferry service, have insisted it was still 'full steam ahead' for the project.
The company said the placing of an advertisement for the two craft in a German trade magazine had been unauthorised. The company stated that David and Roy Bendall, the two Australians, had never intended to retain their connection with the project in the long term.
Marketing manager Janis Gault said it was now hoped that the peak hour commuter service from Bangor and Carrickfergus to Belfast would commence early in 2002.
She insisted that the advert for the two £1.5m catamarans had been inserted without the knowledge of North Queensland Engineering, which owns the craft.
The advert, which Loughlink says has now been withdrawn, said the original price of £3m for the two craft had been reduced to £2.5m for immediate delivery.
Miss Gault said: "The advert was a promotion for a boat show in Germany and should not have been published. We understand it has now been withdrawn."
The ANTRIM RUNNER DOWN RUNNER are berthed in the Port of Belfast, and the company hopes to use them for a series of promotional trips before Christmas.
But it says the scheduled service, which was originally due to be launched in August 2001, would not now commence until early in January.
Miss Gault said Loughlink had been bought out by a local consortium which includes the new general manager Hammond Coppinger, an Englishman who has been resident in Northern Ireland for some years.
Miss Gault said: "The buy-out took place two weeks ago and involves Mr Coppinger and a substantial private investor.
"The Bendalls always said they would not be involved long-term and their objective was to sell out to a local group. They have other commitments and it would not be practical to run business operations here and in Australia at the same time."
Miss Gault said the 119-seater craft, which arrived in Belfast in August, are on a ten to 15-year lease from North Queensland Engineering to Loughlink.
She said: "We are 99% sorted out but we still have some issues to resolve. We are confident we will be able to start operations in the New Year but we are not at this stage setting a firm date."
Loughlink, which is based in the Port of Belfast, has hired six staff so far and plans to recruit a total of 20.
The Bendalls were not available for immediate comment.
A nuclear submarine is to become a tourist attraction in Plymouth the Royal Navy revealed this week.
Next summer Devonport dockyard will throw open the hatches of the decommissioned Churchill Class attack submarine HMS COURAGEOUS. The unique exhibit will be the first of its kind in Britain and one of only a handful in the world.
Visitors will be able to tour the interior of the Cold War veteran after she is moved into a dry dock at Devonport Naval Base. She is due to open to the public in time for next Augusts' Navy Days.
The Cold War warrior has been laid up at Devonport since her decommissioning in 1993, after 22 years stalking Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic. Stripped of her nuclear components, the boat had been facing an uncertain future until three weeks ago, when final ministerial approval was given to throw the submarine open to the public.
The project is excellent value for money, and according to Captain John Binns, captain of boat safety at Devonport Naval Base, could provide Plymouth with a tourist attraction to rival the world-famous nuclear submarine USS Nautilus in Connecticut, USA.
"The submarines have always been known as the silent service, so there is a natural mystique which we hope will attract enormous interest," said Captain Binns, who sailed on the boat in 1990.
Bringing HMS COURAGEOUS up to health and safety standards, and preparing the dry dock in which she will sit, will cost about £300,000. But once she is in position, running costs should be no more than the annual £80,000 maintenance bill the Navy is already paying for her.
In about two years' time, a board of trustees will take over the running of the project, and by applying for extra grants it is hoped Courageous will become a major tourist draw.
Capt Binns added: "Once she's in the dock we're not going to sit back and say ‘That's that.'
"There is the energy and direction to keep driving the project onwards as far as we can take it. We see it as a great opportunity for Devonport and for Plymouth."
Because of a 1958 partnering agreement with America on the design of nuclear propulsion systems, the submarine's machinery compartments will be strictly ‘out of bounds' when she opens next year.
But visitors will have full access to the front half of the submarine, including the control room from which the Captain would command the submarine, drive her and fire her weapons.
The boat's huge torpedo room will also be open to the public, a compartment where sailors once slept in hammocks slung between weapon racks because of the limited number of bunks. Size is at a premium in any attack submarine, and visitors will also be able to marvel at the cupboard-sized galley in which chefs once turned out three meals a day for 90 hungry sailors.
They will also be able to inspect the Captain's cabin, officers' wardroom, the cramped sleeping accommodation and the senior ratings' mess. But before the submarine can open, there is work to be done. The allocated dock, number three, is still occupied by DML engineers who have agreed to dock the boat for the Navy at a minimal cost. First they need to modify the dock's cradle in which the boat will sit. Then, in early March, COURAGEOUS will be guided by tugs into the flooded dock, which will then be drained. Meanwhile, engineers are busy at work inside the submarine. When Courageous was defuelled on decommissioning, some of her equipment had to be removed, including the sonar consoles, used by operators to detect and locate enemy submarines. Now engineers are transferring some of the equipment from another decommissioned boat, HMS Valiant, on to the Courageous.
Recreating authentic conditions inside the submarine's various compartments is essential, according to Capt Binns. It is hoped that one day the exhibit will become commercially self-sustaining, and will be able to pay for mock-up emergencies and realistic battle ‘engagements'. The team is already in talks with the South West Regional Development Agency and the city council about moving the project forward. And Capt Binns is planning to meet the French team behind a similar enterprise at Cherbourg, where a ballistic missile submarine is being opened up to the public at a cost of US$29 million.
When the submarine first opens, access will be through the normal hatches on top of the submarine, meaning only fit and able-bodied people will be allowed inside. But it is hoped that one day holes could be cut in the boat's side to improve access.
The Liverpool Echo reported this week that former employees of Cammell Laird are to receive a total of £1.5m compensation for being made redundant. Up to 1,000 former employees will received around £2,000 each A decision was reached at an Industrial Tribunal that Cammell Laird and its subsidiary companies had failed to consult over the job losses.
The tribunal was told that the first the union chief heard about the redundancies was over the local radio.
Under employment law companies must consult unions on planned job losses. The tribunal heard that Cammell Laird and its subsidiaries, Wright and Beyer and DOE Electrical failed to do so until redundancies were announced. The payments will come from the government through the Department of Trade and Industry.
The paper also revealed that Trade and Industry Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt has decided not to refer the sale of Cammell Laird site to Southampton Based A&P Group to the Competition Commission. It had been hoped on Merseyside that the decision to sell the yard to A&P which itself is mainly owned by Cammell Laird's principal creditor the Royal Bank of Scotland would be referred for investigation.
IRISH GOVERNMENT INTRODUCED TONNAGE TAX
In this week's budget the Irish Finance Minister announced the introduction of a tonnage tax for the shipping industry. The move comes after several years of lobbying and threats from two principal operators Irish Continental Group and Arklow Shipping that they may move their vessels to foreign registers should the government continue to ignore their requests
The Minister for the Marine, Frank Fahey, said that the tonnage tax would be "a flat rate tax linked to tonnage that will act as a catalyst to regenerate the Irish shipping industry." He said that shipping companies would have the choice to opt for this new form of taxation based on actual profits or losses but essentially on the size/tonnage of their ships.
The decision to introduce the tax has been welcomed by shipping companies.
|NOTES & NEWS |
Welcome to this week's update. Please note that the update schedule for December to February has now been published. Certain dates shown are highly provisional and may be subject to change, however, I intend to maintain the weekend updates on Saturday evenings where possible.
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Justin Merrigan - Incat and "others"
On November 28 Hoverspeed announced that it will be increasing its peak season cross channel sailing frequency from Dover in 2002 by operating up to 16 return sailings daily - compared to 13 in 2001.
With departures every hour on the hour from 0600 to 2000, Hoverspeed will provide 14 return sailings daily between Dover and Calais and two return sailings from Dover to the Belgian port of Ostend.
Hoverspeed's popular Newhaven - Dieppe high speed service - crossing time just two hours - resumes for the new season from 22 March to 30 September, providing up to three return sailings daily. A conventional ferry will also be operating year round on this route with up to two return sailings daily.
BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN FERRY
The future of the former Sea Containers Ballycastle - Campbeltown Ferry route which last operated in 1999 is looking increasingly bleak. The UK government has made it clear that there is no money available to restart the route.
Wendy Alexander, the new Scottish transport minister, will now have to find an annual subsidy of £1m if the planned 11-month-a-year service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle, which is central to developing the Kintyre economy, is to go ahead.
After a meeting in London on Monday, the Scotland office has admitted that ferry services between different parts of the UK "fell through the cracks of the devolution settlement" and remained a reserved matter, but an order is to go through Westminster handing responsibility over to the Scottish and Northern Ireland executives.
Scores of jobs in Kintyre are reported to be resting on a quick decision and resumption of the service.
The Scottish executive would pick up around 75% of the subsidy bill because Kintyre stands to gain most economically from the route. Northern Ireland ministers have already agreed to pay their share.
A Scotland office minister, George Foulkes, has said he hopes to arrange another meeting "within the next two weeks to take forward this matter as soon as possible".
But a source close to the negotiations said this week: "If the executive has not made its mind up, there probably won't be another meeting.
"You can draw your own conclusions from the fact a decision wasn't reached on Monday."
The Scottish executive said that papers on the matter would go before the full cabinet for a decision rather than remaining with Ms Alexander, even though she attended Monday's meeting in Glasgow as enterprise minister and was subsequently handed responsibility for
transport in Jack McConnell's reshuffle.
A spokeswoman for the executive said: "Ministers will assess all the issues surrounding the proposed service, including the payment of a subsidy. No date has been set, but I would expect it to be sooner rather than later."
The European commission has indicated informally that subsidies on the Campbeltown to Ballycastle route would not breach anti-state aid laws. "
JONATHAN SWIFT arrived at Canada Graving Dock on the evening of Monday, November 26 for her refit. She is due to return to service on December 10. Her engine overhaul will take place in the new year.
The new berth 51a linkspan was load tested on November 30 using loaded tipper trucks. It is expected that the berth will be tried out by the STENA FORWARDER in the coming week.
ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY
The company is planning some day excursions using the DeHavilland Twin Otter aircraft over the Christmas and New Year period.
On Tuesday December 18 and Tuesday January 8 there will be day trips to Jersey. Fare £92.
Flights depart St.Mary's, Isles of Scilly at 08:30 arriving at Guernsey at 09:35. Departure from Guernsey will be at 15:30 with a 16:35 arrival at St.Mary's
On Thursday December 20 there will be a day excursion operated from Newquay to Morlaix, Britanny for £80.
The company is also advertising day trips "coming soon" to Cork and Jersey from Newquay.
Meanwhile there is an offer on day trips to the Isles of Scilly during December and January from Land's End for £35 if two vouchers are collected from the Cornishman newspaper.
MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY
BRIDGE ACROSS THE IRISH SEA
This week the Mersey Dock's and Harbour Company issued a press release giving details of the installation of the new bridge linking the Twelve Quays pontoon.
The first leg of a new, faster route across the Irish Sea has been established at the Port of Liverpool with the installation of a linkspan bridge between the Twelve Quays Terminal at Birkenhead and the floating pontoon where roll-on roll-off ferries will berth in the River Mersey.
The 86 metre long and 14 metre wide structure weighing 500 tonnes, was lifted into position by the heavy lift floating crane UGLEN, which had sailed from Norway to undertake the operation at Britain’s major West Coast port.
When the £25 million River Terminal opens early next year, the bridge and floating pontoon, both towed to the Mersey from the Belfast yard of Harland and Wolff, will mark the first stage of the Irish Sea journey with Norse Merchant Ferries from Liverpool to Belfast and Dublin.
By berthing in the River Mersey, the new-build freight and passenger vessels will avoid the need to enter the Port’s enclosed docks, knocking 90 minutes off the voyage time. Two of the ferries will berth simultaneously, one at either end of the floating pontoon.
Installation of the linkspan took 10 hours from when the shear leg crane owned by Ugland Marine Services AS of Grimstad, first started to rig the lines used to lift the bridge off the pontoon on which it had been carried across the Irish Sea.
Both the linkspan and pontoon were designed by marine engineering consultants Transmarine Ltd of Newcastle-upon-Tyne who also managed their fabrication and installation for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.
MINE - ALL MINE!
The North Devon Journal reported this week that Trawler skipper Jason Richards went to sea looking for fish – and scooped a mine up in his nets. The shock catch was followed by a bungled attempt to retrieve it by the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Squad, as the explosive device slipped out of the net and plummeted to the bottom of the sea.
The drama unfolded on a normal day's fishing for the skipper of the Bideford-based Kindred Star on Monday. Jason, 31, was pulling his nets in three miles off Baggy Point near Croyde when he spotted the mine entangled in the gear and alerted the coastguards. He said: "I knew exactly what it was as soon as I saw it. I loosened the net so it wasn't against the back of the boat."
He was advised to head back towards Bideford Bay where he was met by a team of experts from the Royal Navy bomb disposal unit. Coastguards were called and the Appledore lifeboat provided safety cover.
But during an attempt to retrieve the old device – which was not thought to be dangerous – it dropped out of the net and down to the bottom of the sea.
A spokesman for Swansea Coastguards said: "Everything was going according to plan before it slipped out of the net. It is at least two miles off shore, and it poses no danger to anyone."
The Royal Navy could send divers to retrieve the mine, and may use it as a training exercise. The local coastguards will be informed if such an exercise is to take place. But Simon Wiseman of the Bideford coastguards said: "It could be worse than searching for a needle in a haystack.
"The mine is a relatively small object, and in a huge ocean with virtually nothing to go on, you would have to be very lucky to find it." But it is in deep enough water for it not to be a danger."
ABELS SHIPYARD BRISTOL
Bristol's only remaining shipbuilding business is to expand its premises as it prepares for future contracts.
A four-storey set of offices is to be built alongside the David Abels yard in Albion Docks, a stone's throw from the ss Great Britain.
David Abels, who founded the business in Hanover Place 22 years ago and has 30 employees, said the development would prove a landmark in the upmarket waterfront area.
He said: "This design is going to be highly visible, and should be seen from Hotwells. It is going to be a reminder that the docks area isn't just about brass-trimmed beer halls and expensive coffee bars."
Mr Abels described the glass and stainless steel appearance as "a bit wacky" and said it was inspired by the layout of a ship's superstructure, to reflect the character of his firm.
The top storey of the office block has already been let, to the architects' firm Bruges Tozer. The company, which came up with the office design, intends to move from its Unity Street premises when the building is created in a few months' time.
Only a year ago the shipyard took over the dry dock next door after it had been left to lie derelict for 20 years.
Mr Abels said: "We're now halfway through constructing a ferry to be used in Portsmouth, and I'm hopeful of getting a substantial overseas contract soon.
"Generally, the prospects are good." The shipbuilding business has just delivered an electric "classroom boat" to British Waterways, for use in the London area.
THE CAT COMPLETES RECORD CANADA – AUSTRALIA PASSAGE
A new record for the fastest sea passage between Canada’s East Coast and Australia has been established by the 91m Incat-built Wave Piercing Catamaran The Cat (hull no. 046).
The Cat set out on her 10,294 nautical miles passage to Hobart, Tasmania from Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy at 0630hrs GMT on 13 November. Just 15 days, two hours and 30 minutes later the craft was safely alongside at Incat’s shipyard in Hobart.
The first leg of the voyage, a distance of 2,238 nautical miles averaging an impressive 37.5 knots, was completed on 15 November when The Cat arrived at the Panama Canal. The next stage of the voyage, 4,500 nautical miles at an average speed of 26.47 knots, was accomplished when the craft arrived at Tahiti on 23 November.
The third and final leg from Tahiti to Hobart, a distance of 3,556 nautical miles, placed The Cat in Hobart at 0900hrs GMT (2000hrs local) on 28 November, beating all previous passages between Canada and Tasmania.
Since The Cat started making the twice-yearly journey in 1998 the typical time taken has been around 20 days.
Each year since her delivery to Canada in 1998, The Cat has been chartered to TT Line by owners Bay Ferries of Nova Scotia for the southern hemisphere summer season on Australia’s Bass Strait.